Larger than life-sized figures characterise this nativity scene, a unique highlight in the beautiful Val Gardena valley.
In Santa Cristina there's a very special highlight - one of the largest cribs and at the same time the world's largest hand-carved nativity scene! The largest crib made of a root, however, can be found in Waldbreitbach in Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany) and the two biggest mechanical nativity scenes with their moving figures in Rajecká Lesná (Slovakia) and in the museum of Jindřichův Hradec in the Czech Republic. It all started in 1988, when a young group of local artisans brought into being an initiative that was originally aimed at promoting handicrafts. The first sculpture this group of 18 sculptures created in 1988, was a larger than life-sized sower of Swiss pine.
Then they started with the nativity scene: the first figure in 1989 was Mary and her Child. It was ready before Christmas and was placed outside the Santa Cristina Parish Church, adding to the local Christmas atmosphere. In the mean time, many more figures have been added, one every year: Joseph, the Three Kings, a shepherd, a camel, the Angel of the Annunciation, the ass and the ox, as well as some sheep. In the year 2000, the nativity scene received its own stable of 12 x 6 x 5.5 metres. But the project doesn't finish here, it is constantly being enlarged.
By the way: The tradition of woodcarving in the valley is many centuries old and dates back to the 17th century. Above all in the long winter months, the handicraft was practised and brought to perfection. Nowadays, the registered trademark of the Bolzano Chamber of Commerce protects the unique wooden artworks of the valley. In South Tyrol there are also four Nativity Scene Collections: the Stabinger Nativity Scene Collection in Sesto, the Maranatha Nativity Scene Museum in the Valle Aurina, the Nativity Scene Museum at the Muri-Gries Monastery in Bolzano and the Nativity Scene Museum Original Heide in Pontives near Laion. And how to reach the huge nativity scene? It is located near the Center Iman in Santa Cristina, a parking space is availabe. This impressive work of art is especially magical in the Advent period just before Christmas!
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